Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Every Street Until We Get It Right

This whole Occupy Wall Street thing has really sucked me in. At first, it was an abstract concept, and I was all, "Go, activists! Get out there and wave some signs." Honestly, I thought it was a tilting-at-windmills type of thing. Now that it has been going on for awhile, I've taken a deeper look, including reading the compelling companion blog, "We are the 99 percent." You'd have to be a cold person, indeed, if you are not moved by story after story of massive student debt, no decent job prospects, the unfulfilled desire to work, the lack of health care, the lack of health care, the lack of health care. I applaud all those brave souls who are sharing their realities in hopes that the collective power of their stories will reach those who can make a difference.

A common theme that emerges from those stories is that people who feel squeezed place their health low on their list of priorities. Totally understandable - you've got to live somewhere and eat, and feed the kids if you have them, so buying your diabetes medicine that costs $400 per month may not seem as urgent. It's short-sighted, definitely, but these stories make clear that long-term thinking has being pushed aside in order to take care of immediate necessities.

Our government is in such dire straits that I don't look for it to solve all these problems (except for health insurance: shame on those who consider health care a privilege only for those who can afford it). And I think we can't live in the past: Seth Godin, an entrepreneur and writer, is quite clear in documenting that the old way of work is not coming back. The jobs we've lost may be gone for good. That means we have to think different (intentional shout out to Steve Jobs). I've also been reading more about putting our money where our mouths are. Supporting the companies in the stock market means supporting business as usual, which means tacit support of bizarrely outsized pay for CEOs, even if they do a bad job and are fired. What about investing in local businesses? Community banks or credit unions versus multinational banks? Is this the revolution - individuals, one at a time, choosing to take their toys and play elsewhere while increasing their self-sufficiency so that perhaps we may not need the jobs that seem to be gone?

The only thing I know for sure is that game has changed and a lot of people are caught playing by the old rules. No one is looking out for your best interests but you, so you might as well take control. And that means control of your health, too, so you can stay out of the "doctors' pockets," as one of my grandmothers used to say. Also? If you are doing OK and you know people who aren't, there is no better time than now to pay it forward.



  1. Great piece, Amy! Invest in what you actually believe in, good health as power and pay it forward when you can.....excellent plan.

  2. Nikki - you summarized it concisely enough to put on a business card! Excellent.

  3. While I agree in general, devil is in the details.
    Everyone needs basic healthcare, but lets focus on keeping young (to us middle aged folks) healthy. And people should be responsible for themselves! What percentage of the population is overweight? How many diabetes and dementia patients are we going to have 20 years from now? The whole 40 thousand a year to go to many of the collages that are just after students for profit... We should talk over a few bottles of wine some night!